Gallo is a new project from brothers Kinski and Rodax Gallo Rodriguez, formerly of the rock en Español group Monte Negro. Gallo is set to release their debut project this February; it's an ambitious trilogy of three full-length albums.
The trilogy is a response to the hurdles confronting artists who create bilingual or Spanish music in America. It's also an opportunity for the brothers to explore their wide range of artistic influences.
"We grew tired of having to explain our stance. So we did Fuego an album fully in Spanish, Phoenix Rising fully in English, and Mamawe fully bilingual," says Kinski Gallo Rodriguez. I spoke with Rodriguez as he prepared for a tour that will bring Gallo to Sabbatical in Broad Ripple on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
NUVO: Can you tell me about your new release? You're simultaneously issuing three albums - - that seems ambitious.
Kinski Gallo Rodriguez: Ambitious indeed and it almost left us dried of all our senses. But we're glad to have done it and glad to be able to tour extensively and share our music with all kinds of people.
When it came time to record, we realized we had too many songs in too many different genres for just one album. We wanted to craft together our diverse musical taste in a fun way. The records contains one focus throughout though: electric beats and electronic-driven music. We wanted it to be anachronistic, but still make three very concrete records gelling from beginning to end. I think we've done that.
NUVO: Has there been an evolution in your music since disbanding Monte Negro and forming Gallo?
Gallo Rodriguez: Yes, Rodax and I felt the need to expand beyond the typical rock band approach. We wanted to do more dance, trip-hop, samba, cumbia, reggae, ska and many more rhythms that are much more beat-oriented as opposed to guitar-driven.
We did a lot of Latin-infused stuff with Mamawe, the third record in the trilogy. That was something we longed to do, but we found a lot of resistance to that with our past band members in Monte Negro.
NUVO: The rhythms of cumbia often appear in your work; is that a significant influence? What other things are you listening to that shape your sound?
Gallo Rodriguez: Cumbia was considered vulgar in Mexico, but it was a great genre that was always present. Every party had it. As a child, I loved Sonora Dinamita and the things on the radio. It just made you shake your body involuntarily.
Other influences: I like Bajofondo Tango Club and CAMPO. I love Gustavo Cerati; he actually was the one who awakened me to the idea of electronic music. He's a true pioneer and I say I owe him more than most bands. Bocanada is a true gem and it influenced us greatly. So did Massive Attack, Tricky, Bjork, Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon and a lot of bossa nova. Basically, all we do is make electro beats with Latin sounds and what comes out is a bit of a novelty to us.
NUVO: I really like your song "Mamawe." It seems to have an almost African sound.
Gallo Rodriguez: That's funny; my wife is from Africa and the first time I played it she said we should go to Mali to record the chorus with local singers. I would've loved to, but logistics got in the way. That song came about on New Year's Day. I just started to chant "Mamawe." It means nothing really, but it felt so good and positive that I decided to record it.
Rodax and I have always listened to African music. Also a lot of rhythms come from Africa - from both pre- and post-colonial periods. So, I'd say Africa has inspired us directly and indirectly.
But everything inspires us: the sun, my son, my family, my friends, trouble and love. Love is the only miracle to me and it reaches farther than most things on this planet.
NUVO: Your father was a mariachi musician; was music a big part of your upbringing?
Gallo Rodriguez: He always sang around us. Without knowing, he taught me a lot about harmonies - - but never methodically. It was always fun a way to escape or chase away our sorrow and to express our gratitude.
Each edition of A Cultural Manifesto features a mix from Kyle Long, spotlighting music from around the globe. This week's selection features a quick mix of recent favorites from the South American scene.
1. Adrián Garcia - VII Accion (Chile)
2. Campo - Zorzal (Uruguay)
3. Mati Zundel - La Cumbia de la Loviya (Argentina)
4. Bomba Estéreo - Sintiendo (Colombia)
5. Astro - Manglares (Chile)
6. Campo - Cumbio (Uruguay)
7. Ondatrópica - Cumbia Espacial (Colombia)
8. Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto - El ñeque (Colombia)